Does a DUI Conviction Prevent Gun Ownership in the State of Washington?

September 13, 2017

Depending on the circumstances, a DUI charge in the State of Washington is punishable by either a felony or a misdemeanor sentence. One of the factors that distinguishes a misdemeanor DUI charge from a felony DUI charge is the length of the sentence. Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. Those are punishable by up to 364 days in a county jail. Felony convictions are punishable by at least 365 days in a state prison.

Contact us as soon as possible after any DUI arrest in or around Spokane for a free consultation. You have rights that you’ll want to invoke. Please also feel free to visit our Spokane DUI Lawyer page.

The law of the land

Under federal law, anybody who has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence is prohibited from owing or possessing a firearm or ammunition. This isn’t an issue of a state’s rights. It’s the law of the land whether its been codified in a state or not. That prohibition also includes even just possessing a firearm in your home. The ban lasts for a lifetime. A conviction for owning or possessing a firearm in contravention of this ban is punishable by up to 10 years in a federal prison. Under the laws of the State of Washington, the crime is also punishable by up to 10 years in prison along with a fine not to exceed $20,000.

Felony DUI

Most DUIs in the State of Washington are charged as misdemeanors. State law in Washington is silent on prohibition of a firearm for a person convicted of misdemeanor DUI. Only convicted DUI felons need be concerned about owning or possessing a gun, and the law is very simple on that issue. They can’t own or possess a firearm.

What is a conviction?

A conviction is broadly defined under the laws of the State of Washington. A conviction includes any finding of guilt or plea of guilty in either the adult or juvenile courts. If a person successfully completes a deferred sentence, that still operates as a conviction. Even a vacated conviction coupled with a dismissal might be considered a conviction.

Be careful about possession

People can be in actual physical possession or constructive possession of a firearm. An individual might be in constructive possession of a firearm if he or she exercises dominion or control over it. The law doesn’t require the firearm to be in a person’s hand, on their body or inside of their clothing. It could be under the seat of their car or in a desk drawer at home. Whether the weapon is loaded or unloaded is irrelevant.

Restoration of firearm rights

A person who is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm is allowed to bring a petition before a Superior Court judge for restoration of their firearm rights. For more information on this, visit our page dedicated to restoration of gun rights page.

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